There is no denying the power of the seed. Seeds naturally possess dense nutritional value, are widely varied, and known to be good for your health.
Turning seeds into seed oils takes those benefits and elevates them by making it possible to add oils to personal care items, dietary supplements, animal nutrition, and other functional foods.
Curious about seed oils and how they are made? We can help.
What’s the difference between seed oils and other types of oil?
Seed oils are just one category of vegetable oil. There are others that differ based on source and extraction method. Some of these differences include:
- Oils can be extracted from other parts of plants, like their fruits, nuts, and kernels. Olive oil, for example, comes from the fruit of the olive tree as opposed to an olive seed.
- Seed oils are commonly rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, with essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6. They often contain other beneficial compounds, like antioxidants and vitamin E. Not all vegetable oils are as nutritionally dense.
How are seed oils made?
Seed oils are made when beneficial oils are successfully extracted from plant seeds. Many fruits and vegetables are capable of being used for seed oils — ranging from blackberries to pumpkin, sunflower, tomato and beyond. They’re made using a variety of different extraction methods, including but not limited to cold pressing, hot pressing, and solvent extraction.
Let’s explore how to make seed oil — starting with these common extraction methods.
- Cold pressing. The cold press technique, also referred to as expeller pressing, is one of the oldest, simplest, and purest methods of seed oil extraction. This process involves mechanically pressing seeds without exposing them to high temperatures that can disrupt natural flavors and aroma. Cold-pressed oils retain more of the beneficial compounds found in the seeds, even though the process is slower than alternatives.
- Solvent extraction. Solvent extraction is used almost entirely at scale. It’s meant to get a larger quantity of oil from seeds faster using a chemical solvent — usually hexane — that dissolves the oil from the seeds. After that, the solvent-oil mixture gets separated from solid residue, and the solvent is evaporated, leaving behind the extracted oil. This method helps get more from seeds with low oil content and high yield potential, but leaves something to be desired when it comes to purity and environmental friendliness.
- Hot pressing. This process is similar to that of cold press, but the seeds are heated beforehand. The increased temperature helps with speed and efficiency but can simultaneously lead to some loss of nutritional value and flavor.
Now you’ll be able to give a confident answer if you’re ever asked how seed oils are made.
If you’re curious about how they’re used — including how they can enrich and enhance your product’s performance — we’d love to hear from you.